Nearly one month after seeing her husband depart for Dathomir, Alyssa Enloe tends to their child before retiring early after a stressful day learning of yet another loss for the Republic in the Outer Rim.
As she collapses onto the bed she once shared with her husband, Alyssa falls into a deep slumber, wondering where her husband could be and why she has not heard from him since his departure.
Little does she know that her husband has become stranded on Dathomir after being ambushed by several Trade Federation battleships. While his small fleet had been able to launch several escape pods, most were shot down in space before reaching the surface of the planet.
However, many of Commander Rykrof Enloe’s clone troopers did not survive the crash…and they are the lucky ones…
…as several of those that did survive find themselves being hunted by the giant rancor beasts native to the planet…
…while all Republic clone troopers are trained to expect the unexpected…
…very few have the ability to avoid the clutches of a bull rancor…
…and are devoured by the terrible beasts.
If it is not the diseases, starvation or the native creatures that the survivors fear, it is the relentless patrols by the Separatists, obsessed with killing any potential survivors.
After several weeks, Commander Asajj Ventress has tracked down what is thought to possibly be the final survivor from the Republic strike force sent to destroy any remaining Badoo Corba in the system.
Exhausted and beaten, the clone struggles to keep from falling to the ground. Only pride and training keeps the genetic copy of the famous bounty hunter Jango Fett from collapsing into the cesspool of grime infested swamp water. Only this pride and training give him the strength to stare his hunter face to face before his imminent death.
“Fool,” the dark woman says. “Your war efforts are useless against the might of Count Dooku. The terrorist base you seek was abandoned before you even arrived. Once again your pathetic military strategies have failed.”
With a terrible pinch through her mastery of the Dark Side of the Force, the woman ends the clone’s oxygen supply, causing an agonizing death for the soldier of the Republic.
“Leave this weak scum to rot,” she says half mindedly to the battle droids flanking her. “I must update General Grievous on our progress.”
After explaining her success and the near impossibility of any further survivors, Asajj is surprised to learn that Count Dooku has ordered for her to stay on the planet until she has firm proof of Rykrof Enloe’s death. Although she has no respect for Grievous, Asajj Ventress will do anything to further her influence with the mighty Count Dooku, and agrees to stay on Dathomir until the completion of her mission.
Soon after, the Separatist fleet gathers in the Daabul System.
Count Dooku discusses the latest situation with former Jedi Master, Sora Bulq. “I disagree with keeping Commander Ventress on Dathomir,” the Dark Jedi says.
“She has a mission and I wish to see if she fulfills it. This is not only a test to find Republic survivors, but will be a challenge for her with the native creatures on the planet, as well as with the witch. The commander’s search radius is currently limited to a 100 kilometer trajectory of where the escape pods landed. The pods just so happened to crash on a rather large island, ruled by this dark witch. This should prove to be an interesting challenge for Commander Ventress.”
“I see,” agrees Sora Bulq. “And so it is,” Dooku replies. “And while we continue to strike randomly against the Republic, they are unable to gather the necessary resources to interfere with our excavation of Rhen Var.”
Meanwhile, back on Dathomir, the Separatist forces continue their search.
“There’s too many of them,” TK-42 says. “Even if I got off a clear shot on her, we’d be overrun by droids.”
“Then we move on,” Commander Rykrof Enloe replies. "Now is not the time to confront them."
“But Sir, where are we to go,” TK-42 asks. “We’ve been out here for weeks, constantly running and hiding from the droids and those giant beasts. I for one would rather take a few of them out with me than be snuck up on and shot in the back...or…”
“Look, we’re getting off this damn planet. I don’t know how we’re gonna get out of this mess, but I’m not dying here,” Rykrof says. “Either we wait to get rescued, or we find a way off this slimy mud hole.”
“We really haven’t covered any ground either. It’s time we try heading south.”
Several hours later, to their surprise the group discovers what looks to be the abandoned Badoo Corba base they had originally set out to destroy. Cautiously, they approach the ghostly structure.
“It’s doubtful there will be anyone here still Sir, but I still suggest we try and find another entrance to be on the safe side,” TK-42 recommends. “Nothing’s been easy so far,” Rykrof argues. “I say we try and see if our luck changes. We’ll go ahead and try the front door.”
To the relief of the group, Rykrof appears to have been right. Not only does the base appear to be abandoned, but the front door was unlocked.
“Ok, now I suggest a little more caution,” Rykrof says. “I really didn’t expect that door to be open.”
As they begin to search the complex, Rykrof notices an emblem of the former Badoo Corba leader, Trigg Fuuda… and is reminded of the many terrible memories he has experienced since his first mission to Abridon, so many years ago.
Suddenly the group hears a sound from the adjacent room, and proceeds with caution…
“Set weapons for stun,” Rykrof orders as they prepare to enter the next room.
To their surprise, they find a Mon Calamari standing with his arms up, begging for his life.
“Please don’t shoot me,” he begs. “I am only looking for parts to repair my ship to get off this planet. I mean you no harm!”
“What if he’s a terrorist …leftover from their quick departure? Will we be having fish for dinner,” TK-42 asks. “No, I don’t think so,” Rykrof says. “I don’t think he’s lying to us.”
Soon after, Rykrof’s troops begin searching the complex for supplies.
And Rykrof takes a much needed break. Sensing a good opportunity to question their new acquaintance, Rykrof begins to get to know the Mon Calamari. First he explains his situation, and then listens carefully to what the Mon Calamari has to say.
“Freelo is my name. I am a freelance archaeologist. I was contacted by the Separatists to assist in an excavation on Rhen Var, but was unsure whether or not to take the offer, which was substantial. I was near this system when my ship’s thermal coupling faulted, causing my crash on this planet.”
“I’ve seen the Separatist droids here on the planet though, and have avoided them fearing they may shoot me first and ask questions later.”
“That’s what this war has become,” Rykrof laments.
“Even now, the war goes on…”
“…it’s reached levels I never though possible…”
“…and all we have seen is destruction.”
“True,” Freelo says. “A terrible thing this war has become, for both sides. Perhaps we can work together to get off of this planet and return to our homes before they become destroyed too.”
“But to get back to my ship it could be difficult…”
“…for I have seen an evil being near my crash site that is far more terrible than droids or rancors…”